1 Corinthians 4:1-5 (CEB)
Paul’s role as an apostle
So a person should think about us this way—as servants of Christ and managers of God’s secrets. In this kind of situation, what is expected of a manager is that they prove to be faithful. I couldn’t care less if I’m judged by you or by any human court; I don’t even judge myself. I’m not aware of anything against me, but that doesn’t make me innocent, because the Lord is the one who judges me. So don’t judge anything before the right time—wait until the Lord comes. He will bring things that are hidden in the dark to light, and he will make people’s motivations public. Then there will be recognition for each person from God.
It’s been a busy day – three engagements, but separated by quite a bit of mileage – Messy Church, the induction of Jacquey & Roger at Lynton URC and then a funeral visit… The driving has given me quite a bit of thinking time – which is a luxury!
This passage merits a bit of thought. Paul’s bold assertion chimes with what I tell people about myelf quite often:
“I couldn’t care less if I’m judged by you or by any human court.”
OK, so I may not use that language, but the SENSE of what Paul is saying is something that I THINK is true about me. Paul is saying that he’s not hurt by human judgement. Whatever people say about him is of little consequence.
There ARE people who are very conscious about what the world thinks of them – who are only too aware of the court of public opinion.
I like to tell people that I am not. When I hear Paul saying the same thing, then I can offer Paul a virtual high-five.
BUT… it’s not as simple as that. I DO care about what a FEW people think of me and I DO care what they say about me. It’s true, the rest, I’m not that bothered – but not for a virtuous reason! If I think that others judge me harshly I simply decide that they are stoopid to understand the situation properly and that the fault is with them – it saves me from being bothered about it (or taking it seriously!)
I think we can all agree that’s not really a positive trait!
As with a lot of what Paul writes, there is a very fine line here between a kernal of truth and plain old-fashioned, pig-headed arrogance!
So what’s the kernal of truth? Paul is saying that he can be released from worrying about how people judge him IF (and only if) he is paying proper attention to how God sees him – and recognising that in God’s eyes he is falling short – and then breathing in the refreshing, graceful gift of God’s forgiveness and renewal.
This is quite a long way from where I am!
I’m not totally convinced that this is exactly where Paul always was either – he quite often seems quite concerned about his reputation amongst people… Maybe this is one of the “thorns” that he struggled with through his life?
What can I learn?
1) It can be a strength not to be overly-concerned about the judgement of others;
2) It can be a weakness to dismiss all human judgement – sometimes they might be right…